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Abusive Client Feedback



On my first and only contract here on Upwork I had a very difficult client to deal with.

I received an invitation for that specific contract where the client was asking for a couple of T-Shirt illustrations. She provided some refference photos and demanded something with a similar feel. And that's basically all the info she provided. I replied to her, saying that I'd be happy to take the contract IF what she desired was indeed a similar punk-rock/psychedelic style, and NOT a "copycat" type of illustration. Without saying anything, she just gave me the contract and I began working on the sketches.


Later on, after she accepted the concepts, and paid the money for the first milestone, it was time to proceed to the finished pieces. And this is where it all starts. Out of nowhere, she says she wants the illustrations in a fully editable .ai file (Adobe Illustrator), in order to be able to modify them in case she wanted to do so. I politely explained her that my technique involves traditional ink on paper drawings, and digital coloring, so there was no way for me to provide a VECTORIZED illustration. If she would have specified her desire for a VECTORIAL illustration, I would have turned down her offer right from the start.


Further on, I explained her, from a technical point of view that what I would deliver would be enough to cover a surface much bigger than a T-shirt (since I only work with very high DPI scans), so that was no reason for concern. In addition to that, I can't allow her to produce any changes to the artwork, since she only has USAGE rights, not CREATIVE rights. From this point on she just caught on fire, insulting me and my artwork (note: she was the one who invited me ) and contradicting her own statements. I'll copy-paste below a few examples:


"You fail to understand. **bleep**ing apples?. I asked for Phillips and you gave me some crap that is way off. the job is very clear. .ai format. I only asked for the file. I'm not paying for your services, I'm paying for a finished product, emailed to me. If i knew some stupid rule about not being able to receive an email, i wouldn't have used the site and definitely wouldn't have hired you."

Later on:

"that's all I wanted was our design with the "inspiration". You wouldn't understand what i was going for unless i said somebody's name you recognized. i used Phillips as a an example of art that is based on a style that matches my home town. i never wanted a Jimbo copy. Your art is just way too hipster skinny jeans for us."

I'm definitely not a native english speaker, but I think can speak the language well enough to distinguish between these two statements. First she's ASKING for a Phillips, then she claims she used that name only to give me a hint about what she desired. That's pretty contradictory to me.


The feedback she left on my profile, is also insulting and equally misleading, and consequently: abusive. And since I can prove everything I said above just by showing the conversation we had on Upwork, who should I adress to in order to have that removed? Obviously, such a feedback is most probably driving many potential clients away.


Sorry for long post but, I wanted to offer as many details as possible in order for this not to be mistaken for some big - ego - feedback -removal - request.


Have a nice day!

Community Member

Radu I wrote:

In addition to that, I can't allow her to produce any changes to the artwork, since she only has USAGE rights, not CREATIVE rights.

You are about to have a very unpleasant wake-up call.

Unless you have anything to the contrary in writing, absolutely all rights pass to the client upon payment on Upwork. Unless you have an additional written agreement to the contrary, you absolutely do allow the client to make whatever changes to her (!) artwork she likes.


As far as removing that feedback - not going to happen.




Community Member

Agree with Petra on the fact that you don't have rights to the work here. They paid for it and you accepted payment. It's now belongs to them. 


Your rebuttal on your profile indicates she called your work "crap" but her review doesn't say that. I guess I would not introduce that statement if it wasn't already public. 


She did call you a "hack" which perhaps is the only thing UW could look at. That is more of a personal attack and name calling. I could see the case to remove that portion but not the rest. 


A lesson learned here is to be clear up front what form of deliverable you will be providing. You are not the first artist I have seen who has gotten into trouble with a client when that client later asks for an editable file. You need to understand that not all clients automatically understand your artistic process. I strongly suggest that with each project you take on, that you are clear about the delivery so later you avoid the file types and other related issues. Always assume the client is a novice. There is no harm in being clear on this upfront but there is a great harm, as you have experienced, in doing it later. Again, I have seen this from many artists so you are not the first. Learn from this for next time.

Community Member

What Petra said. Artwork you create for your clients on Upwork belong to the client.


I would also suggest that you rework your profile overview so that clients know that your illustrations are not digital but hand-drawn. Make that very clear so clients will not assume otherwise.


You can safely assume that with most all illustration and logo design jobs, clients are expecting to received original vector artwork files using Adobe Illustrator or other vector-based programs. The exceptions to that rule would be if you're hired to do hand-drawn illustrations for a children's book, for instance.


By the way, no matter how you feel about feedback left, leaving a reply such as the one you left will turn clients off in a big way ... no matter who is at fault. Your comments are not going to do you any good. In some cases, it's best not to respond at all.

Community Member

deleted by me -- please ignore. 

"No good deed goes unpunished." -- Clare Boothe Luce
Community Member

Hello Radu and welcome to Upwork!
I am sorry to hear what you have been through. There is always the good and the bad in any place.
Regarding your question on how to remove the negative feedback, sadly only top rated freelancers have this perk. So in short, you cannot remove it.
What you can do instead is to try your best to repair and compensate for the negative feedback with other successful and well made small projects, as soon as you can.

With time, the effect of that contract will get diluted, and you will able to save your overall score.
You can also leave a short and professional comment on the feedback she left you on your profile so that new clients can get both sides of the story.
Some advice for future reference, always, always discuss and ask about everything and every detail about the project before starting. This is very important. You might find yourself in worse situations if you do not make sure of what you are stepping into before accepting any project.
So make sure everything is crystal clear before moving forward, always being careful in the first place is better than repairing the damage later on.
Best of luck in the future.

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